You pet people out there will hear me when I say: Charlotte, my childhood dog of over 16 years passed away today, and it's tough news to take.
16 years is a long time for a pup, and she had declined a lot recently--deafness, harsh arthritis--and when she lost the use of her hind legs yesterday to some mysterious ailment, my family knew her quality of life had about run out. And I'm grateful she didn't end her life in pain or in fear. Because she was a runner, always had been, and none of us would have been surprised if it was a speeding car on a dark street that took her out in the end.
She was the dog to make me into a dog person, and planted the joy I feel from a dog's burst of excitement every time I come home. Because, how great is it that they are excited every damn time, whether it has been 10 minutes or eight hours? Such a simple and pure affirmation, with no bias or tinted motivation.
And despite that tendency to squeeze through any and every hole in our ragged fence, leading us in a frantic and frustrated chase, I loved her and her craziness. One of the many times she ran away, a day care down the street called to say they had found her, and told us not to worry because the kids were giving her water and graham crackers.
She was a companion and a reassuring presence in every way a dog should be, especially for a kid stumbling through adolescence in the most insecure ways. Dogs are uncritically, unapologetically and enthusiastically loving, and it was good to have in my life then-- and hopefully I'll keep a dog in my life as long as I can.
Love you, sweet girl. You were a great one.